Sunny Side Up

Gratitude & Happiness

Sweet Scottish Steps.

on April 22, 2015

S  is for Strathspey.

In my younger years, I delighted in playing dress up in my leotard and tutu and going to ballet class to twirl about. Unfortunately, I was also a stubborn child and felt conflicted between my Saturday morning cartoons and putting on a performance at dance recital. Cartoons won out. Later, in high – school gym class, they tried teaching us line dancing and ballroom. Some of them were quite complex, and I usually ended up tripping over my own feet. I enjoyed some good laughs, but sadly I can’t say that I remember any of the steps now. In my twenties, it was going clubbing with friends to dance until dawn and begging the D.J. to play our favourite song. I’ve always enjoyed dancing, though I wouldn’t say that I’m any good at it. Perhaps that’s because I’ve grown body conscious over the years and shyness has made me awkward. Now, dancing is something that I do on my own for the feeling of freedom that it brings me.  If I were to learn to dance again, perhaps the Strathspey is one I would consider. Though it looks somewhat complicated with many steps, I like the feeling of traveling to the past to a more courtly and romantic time that the gentler, slower steps suggest.

Learning the steps: A bit more on the Strathspey,

Both the tune and the dancing are named after the Strathspey region of Scotland, in Moray and Badenoch. The Strathspey is a dance in 4/4 time. It is a slower, more stately version of the skip, where the change in step is used for ‘jigs’ and ‘reels.’ (Wikipedia.)

Musically, a Strathspey contains many ‘snaps,’ a short note coming before a dotted note and exaggerated rhythmically. Examples include: “The Bonnie Banks O’ Loch Lomonsung staccato – “You’ll tak the high road, and I’ll tak the low road, and I’ll be in Scotland afore ye.”  Auld Lyne Syne, based on Sir Alexander Don’s Strathspey, and Coming through the Rye, based on The Miller’s Daughter.

  • Originally conceived for the fiddle, the Strathspey uses a bowing technique of a ‘snap’ rhythm.
  • Mimicking Scottish Gaelic song, in tradition, it is conveyed as ‘canntaireachd,’ a style of singing in which syllables stand in for bagpipes.

A beautiful demonstration of a country-style Strathspey.

Where else does the Strathspey appear?

Irish versions are influenced by the Scottish Donegal and are played with a smoother, less jagged bowing.

In Cape Breton, ‘snaps’ can occur anywhere, allowing for a rhythmic lift if needed for the style of step dancing. This music and dance is generally more ‘wild’ in feeling.



2 responses to “Sweet Scottish Steps.

  1. helenalemon says:

    Love that stately style! I also love the Cape Breton types of dancing! Thanks for the write-up!


  2. The Frugal Fur Mom says:

    I love dancing! Ballroom dancing is one style I have not yet experienced but I hope to one day!

    AtoZchallenge Blogger


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